So you are planning a major remodeling of your home or apartment. Your home builder says that you need to hire an inspector to check your place for asbestos and furnish a report to the department of buildings. But when you acquired the place some few years ago, the realtor told you it was asbestos-free. So why do you have to hire an asbestos inspector, and why is it so important?
This is because the New York City Department of Buildings requires a work permit for all construction jobs which include any major remodeling job that entails cutting through concrete walls. Consequently, the department mandates an asbestos survey and submission of ACP-5 form in New York before a work permit is granted. This means even if you were told your home is asbestos-free, you still need to hire an investigator to check whether there is no asbestos in the materials to be demolished.
Asbestos, a fire-resistant and lightweight substance, was commonly used as construction material for many years. Hence, many old buildings do contain asbestos in some of its parts particularly the roofing, insulation and floor tile. It can also be found in exterior windowsills, caulking, and plaster. With the advancement in medicine, the health risks of asbestos have been better understood, which eventually led to the banning of its use.
The city of New York mandates that all buildings to be demolished, renovated or remodeled be evaluated by a certified asbestos investigator. Based on the renovation plans provided by the architect or designer, the investigator should take samples from all types of materials that will be affected by the project. Samples should be tested for presence of asbestos. The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have set guidelines for the proper sampling of construction materials. Only state and city licensed asbestos investigators can remove asbestos and file necessary documents to the city.
Samples gathered are sent to an authorized laboratory for testing. The laboratory determines the quantity and type of asbestos present in the samples. If the analysis shows negative friable ACM, the investigator can furnish the ACP-5 form in New York. The form should also note if there is less than 25 linear feet or 10 square feet of friable ACM in the area.
Submission of the form to the city’s regulating departments verifies that the work is not a friable-asbestos project. However, even for a “not an asbestos project”, it is possible that a non-friable ACM can be demolished or affected during a demolition.
In case the area is positive for asbestos, the department of building may recommend an asbestos abatement project to be completed before the planned renovation or construction work can commence. Again, only authorized asbestos removal and abatement contractor can conduct such procedure. Once the abatement process is completed, the investigator reevaluates the site; this is done before an ACP-5 can be filed.